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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

3o2                              THE GAY GENIUS

He was his natural self once more. While at Canton, he had bought
some good sandalwood incense, and now he enjoyed sitting indoors
with the door closed, quietly enjoying the perfume and thinking of
the mistakes of his past life. Sometimes he enjoyed an afternoon nap
with the cool river breeze coming in through the windows; and when
he was waked up by a cawing raven on the roof, he suddenly realised
that he was now free from all responsibilities. He saw the reflected
light of the broad river enter his own studio. It was good, his heart
declared, as good as a moon shining in a clear sky. He did not
understand why some people thought clouds in the sky made the
moon more beautiful. To him the clear sky was a symbol of a bright
conscience.

Writing to a friend, he said that after staying there half a year and
getting used to the climate he had not a care on his mind, for he had
made peace with his destiny and now accepted it without a doubt.
Another old friend at Huangchow, Chen Tsao, sent him a letter saj^
ing he was coming to visit him. It would be a journey of a thousand
miles from the neighbourhood of Hankow to Huichow, and Su wrote
the following reply:

"I have been here for about half, a year and find the life around
here and the food and customs very agreeable. The officials and the
neighbours have been very kind to me. Confucius did not deceive me'
when he said that one could get along very well even in a country
of barbarians. You had better stay at home and not hazard such a
long journey. Don't worry on account of my stupid old self. . . .
.Nor do I think you should send someone to visit me. Don't be foolish/1
We are both so old that our whiskers can prick each other. . . .
My eldest son conducts himself as an official like his father, and my
second son can write excellent poems and fu. It seems almost as if
he would outshine me. I believe you will be greatly delighted when
you hear this. Today I went to the Mountain of Buddha's Foot-
prints. There was a waterfall thirty fathoms high. Its thunderous
roar and the awe-inspiring leaps of water are hard to describe. It
suggests the stampede of the Tsin army during the defeat by Shiang
JYu. I've just got your letter on my return and am writing this
reply under lamplight. This is the end of the paper and so I will
stop. March 4 [1095]."

Externally, he was living a far from solitary life. As was to be ex-
pected, all die officials of the neighbouring districts availed themselves
of this unique opportunity to make friends with the distinguished poet.
The chief magistrates of five principal districts east, west, and north
of Huichow kept making him presents of wine and food. The chief